lawn beetle

Dry Patches in your lawn? Here's a few things it could be

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There are a number of issues that need to be addressed if your lawn is going off in summer. They can  occur individually, or as an interrelation between two or more of them. The reasons have been listed in order of priority.

  1. Reticulation
  2. Hydrophobic soils
  3. Fertlising & Mowing
  4. Beetles (pests) and fungus's
  5. Soil Compaction

 Reticulation

The first cause is a retic system that is not giving adequate coverage. Likely reasons are blocked / broken/ misaligned sprinklers, change in pressure or sprinklers that have been replaced and don’t match the system. You check retic systems by finding out how many millimetres of water are being applied during each watering time. The pressure is measured by putting aerosol caps around your system and measuring the amount of water in each. If watering twice a week you need a minimum of 30mm on each day in normal conditions. These figures will let you know how long to run each station to get the required amount of water (stations may vary depending on pressure and sprinkler type). Different types of sprinklers put out vastly different amounts of water. Contrary to public perceptions, there is no time limit to how long each station runs for, as long as you water within your allocated watering day and time. Consideration must be given to drift from prevailing winds. Once you have audited your retic system and it is working satisfactorily you can look at the non wetting properties of your soil (hydrophobia).

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 Hydrophobic Soils

Hydrophobic soils repel water and this doesn’t allow for even distribution of water. The water makes runnels, following down through easier penetration areas, over wetting some areas and completely missing others. This is a natural occurrence in our dry, waxy sandy soils. So, if your retic system  is working efficiently and you are still having problems with a dry lawn, use a spade to cut out a square of lawn 100mm deep from the stressed area. You can then compare it with an area of healthy lawn. If it is drier, you probably have hydrophobic soil (at the same time you can check for beetles and grubs). Applying a good quality wetting agent such as Bailey’s Gro Sorb, Soil Soak, Eezi-Wet  or Aqua Soak before the first heat wave and reapplying as required (we recommend 4-6 weekly in summer) will improve and even out the water penetration through your lawn.

Fertilising / Mowing

Lawn should be fertilised lightly every 6 to 8 weeks with a quality fertiliser such as Sir Walter Buffalo Fertiliser or Baileys 3.1.1 or 4.1.1. This should continue even into winter to keep your lawn green and vigorous when others have gone dormant. A tonic of iron, manganese and nitrogen sprayed on the leaf does wonders. This is available at Bunnings. It is important that your lawn is mowed at a suitable height (above 20mm and higher in shade). This helps the lawn to keep its vigour and minimises porpoising (when the runners leap over each other due to the lawn being scalped). Scalping also stresses the lawn as it doesn’t have as much surface area in the leaf to retain moisture and promote photosynthesis and it is a known fact that the length of the leaf has a direct relationship to the length of the roots (longer roots make the lawn more drought tolerant).

 Beetles (Pests) and Fungus

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Pests (black beetle etc) and funguses (virtually unheard of in Sir Walter but more prevalent in other buffalo types and very occasionally in the couch varieties) can also be the cause of problems with your lawn, however these add up to less than 1% of turf related problems. You can check for beetles by soaking an area of a metre square by holding the end of your hose 150mm  below the surface for several minutes and seeing how many float to the top. If you get 50 or more you may have a problem and can treat with a suitable pesticide and for Velvetene lawns  (ONLY APPLICABLE FOR THE VELVETENE _ DO NOT USE ON ANY OTHER LAWN VARIETY) you can apply a salt solution (1kg pool salt dissolved in 5tl water). The black beetle is not a problem  if you have less than 100 to a square metre of lawn. These little creatures generally do more good than harm as they are a natural way of aerating the soil. Do not treat for black beetle unless you have an infestation of them (100/sqm). Funguses can also be treated with a suitable garden fungicide such as Fongarid or Mancozeb plus depending on the type (be aware that you do need to read the label and make sure that it is compatible with your lawn type).

 Compacted Soil

Some lawns do become compacted. Like us they need air. Opening up the ground (de compacting / aerating) with a sturdy pitchfork (pushing it in and working it backwards and forwards) is one way in a small lawn or you can hire a corer from a garden hire company such as The Hire Guys. This will allow for air to circulate through the lawn and make it easier for water to penetrate.

 Other

Finally spills including fertiliser, chlorine, petrol or BBQ fat will damage the lawn. Other secondary problems can be excessive thatch, dog urine and builders slurry (lime and mortar washed out of concrete mixers etc during building). Also, all lawns have a flowering and seeding time. Buffalo lawns flower in late spring and can occur more prevalently in a new or stressed lawn. Any problems can be minimised (or even eliminated) by checking the above points and you should be well on the way to having the best lawn in the street.


THREE GROUND RULES TO A HEALTHY LAWN

  1. Adequate water; 30mm on each of the two days allocated for watering.

  2. Regular dusting of fertiliser

  3. Regular mowing all year round – do not remove more then 1/3 of the leaf. 

Creepy Crawlies Coming Out of Hybernation? Here's Some information on Lawn Beetles

The truth about the African Lawn Beetle...

We usually refer to African Black Beetles as Lawn Beetles, and place all sorts of blame on them for the ills of our lawns health, but is this a true belief, or an urban myth? And is it necessary to kill lawn beetles?

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The Problem with Lawn Beetles

Through the larva stage of their life cycle, the Lawn Beetle will chew away at the roots of our lawns as its primary food supply. With its roots being attacked, the natural assumption is to believe this is a bad thing, that without roots our lawns will surely die. So the Lawn Beetle must be Lawn Enemy Number 1.

But this might not always be the case...

While the larvae most definitely feed on the roots of lawns, they generally keep moving throughout the soil, rarely concentrating on a single small area. Having a feed here and there, and never doing enough damage to a single root system to cause it to kill the lawn plant it is supporting. In actual fact, the lawn beetle could be thanked for its natural aeration of the soil and assisting lawns to replace their lost roots with new, younger and more vigorous roots. 
 

Another Factor

Lawn Beetle activity increases as temperature increases.

This is exactly the same as the growth and health patterns in lawns, so as beetle activity increases, so does the ability of the lawn to repair itself. In fact, a lawn would have to be severely infested before the damage from beetles could ever outpace the lawns ability to repair and grow from any damage caused. And as lawns become dormant during the Winter, so do the beetles.

When Lawn Beetles do become a problem... 

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When lawns are suffering from poor health due to lack of care, lack of nutrients, or lack of water or sunlight, the damage factor of the beetles can outpace the repair abilities of the lawn.

Also, beetles can rarely gather to great enough numbers to outpace the lawns ability to repair itself.

In these cases, treatment to control and kill lawn beetles should be considered.

How to test that it really is an 'infestation' of Lawn Beetle?

The best way to test that you do in fact have an infestation of lawn beetle (an infestation is considered to be more then 100 lawn beetles in one (1) square metre of lawn) is to soak a small area of your lawn with a soapy solution. Approximately one bucket of soapy water should suffice. If one or two lawn beetles come up from the grass then the grass has not been infested with lawn beetle and you may have another issue pertaining to your lawn. If you do have a significant number of beetles come up then it may be time to treat the lawn for lawn beetle. 

How to treat my lawn for Lawn Beetle?

In the rare case that control of African Lawn Beetle may need to be sought, simple dusts are available in most nurseries for a few dollars. Once applied to the lawn, the dust is then watered in, and dead beetles will continue to appear on the lawn surface for up to a month later. It should also be noted that applying any type of chemical to your lawn may cause discolouration and this method is only encouraged if your lawn has a true infestation. 

For Velvetene lawn (please note this is only to be used for Velvetene lawns) you can apply a salt solution to the lawn. Approximately 1 kg of pool salt to 5 litres of water applied to your Velvetene will eradicate the infestation and give your lawn that extra boost it needs to.